cover image A Phở Love Story

A Phở Love Story

Loan Le. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5344-4193-4

Vietnamese American high school seniors Bảo Nguyễn, who has a “fascination with strange words,” and Linh Mai, an aspiring artist, have only ever known the bad blood between their families—especially since the Mais opened a restaurant right across the street from the Nguyễns five years ago. Besides a brief encounter at the Buddhist temple when they were children, Linh and Bảo have never interacted, having been given explicit instruction not to by their parents. Until Bảo notices Linh rushing out of her family’s restaurant one night, overwhelmed by a flood of customers, and offers his help. What should be a brief partnership turns into the start of school newspaper trysts and the discovery of long-buried heartaches. Told in alternating first-person chapters, Le’s debut is an introspective examination of struggles that children of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants can face, as well as experiences of racism and unspoken sacrifices made to survive in a cutthroat industry and country. The classic star-crossed lovers recipe is updated with traditional Vietnamese dishes and smooth integration of the author’s southern Vietnamese dialect, star ingredients of this warm, delightful read. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. [em](Feb.) [/em]